Jolted While In The Saddle

It’s not, in this instance, that you’ve been knocked off your horse. You are–this much is clear–still very much on your horse.

It’s rather that you’ve been jolted while in the saddle. And this is curious at the same time that it’s unsettling.

Don’t blame it on the horse. Observe that the horse, in this instance, is not spooked. The horse is fine.

Don’t even blame it ‘on yourself,’ though this turn within will take you closer to what’s happening.

No, realize that regardless of circumstances, no matter how well the horse is trotting, and notwithstanding your prior attempts to lead a calm and composed life, you are not at ease. Undeniably, the mind is not at peace.

You now see the second patriarch’s meaning when he said, “I am not at peace.” His meaning is yours.

This insight rattles you. For you start to see that all your practices, all the “psychotechnologies” you’ve engaged in hitherto while not for naught are nonetheless ultimately ineffectual. They won’t bring you home.

Understanding all this, ask yourself this question, “How could it be that such a minor, insignificant incident could have jolted, rattled, and stirred me so? I’m in the saddle, I’ve not fallen off, yet I’m rattled by this insignificant something. How could this be?”

You’re starting to see clearly that however quiet the mind is, it seems never to be totally at rest or at ease. The deeper you look into the matter, the subtler the disquiet, or dis-ease, revealed.

Will it never end? Will the mind never be truly still?

Again, “How could it be that such a minor, insignificant incident could have jolted, rattled, and stirred me so?”

Then you start to realize, in a more poignant, direct way, that mind is always in flux–excited one minute, angry the next, crestfallen in the afternoon, bubbly in the evening, and despondent by nightfall. And each day discloses the same painful truth, the unseemly marriage of anicca (impermanence) and dukkha (dis-ease).

I am not at ease. My mind is not at peace. Meanwhile, the horse is just fine. Meanwhile, moments before, I seemed to be going along just fine. What gives?

What is seen and felt cannot be unseen or unfelt. Your life-koan is right here for you: given this impossible situation, what can you do?